Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Davydenko agrees to provide phone records to ATP
By John Barr Special to ESPN.com
PORTLAND, Ore. -- After refusing for months, embattled Russian tennis star Nikolay Davydenko has decided to turn over personal phone records to ATP investigators who are conducting a probe into suspicious gambling activity on one of his matches.
Davydenko, who is in Portland with his Russian teammates preparing for this weekend's Davis Cup final against the U.S., told ESPN on Tuesday that he changed course on the advice of his attorney.
"I'm cooperating and turning over the telephone numbers I use and records of conversations," Davydenko said through an interpreter.
"We plan to turn over the phone records this evening," the player's attorney, Frank Immenga, said Wednesday morning from his office in Frankfurt, Germany. "I hope it'll show them, 'Look, this guy is innocent, clear him quickly and declare it over.'"
Davydenko, No. 4 in the World Rankings, has been under scrutiny since early August when he played a match in Sopot, Poland, against Argentinian Martin Vassallo Arguello, then ranked No. 87. According to the London-based gambling Web site Betfair, Davydenko was a slight underdog to Vassallo Arguello before the match began, despite the difference in rankings, and an even greater underdog, oddly, after he won the first set. Betfair voided nearly $7 million in bets after higher than normal wagering on the early-round match. No money was paid.
Nikolay Davydenko still isn't happy with ATP investigators, but he says he is cooperating with them.
According to Immenga, ATP investigators told him in early November that nine Betfair account holders based in Russia stood to make $1.5 million if Davydenko lost to Vassallo Arguello. Two other gamblers, whose locations are not known, stood to make nearly $6 million if Davydenko lost, Immenga said.
Davydenko withdrew from the match in Sopot after trailing Vassallo Arguello 2-6, 6-3, 2-1, blaming a stress fracture in his foot for his early exit. He was surprised to learn a few days after the match that he would be questioned by ATP investigators about the suspicious gambling activity, he said.
Davydenko said he was first contacted by the ATP about turning over phone records a few weeks after the Sopot tournament, while he was in New York preparing for the U.S. Open.
"I was very angry with the ATP," Davydenko said Tuesday. He said the ATP demanded access to his personal phone records within a week and created an unnecessary distraction during the major championship.
"They made a lot of mistakes," Davydenko said, referring to the ATP's investigators. "They did not have the right to make demands or conduct investigations without my knowledge."
"They pushed us into the corner of a person prosecuted without any evidence," Immenga said. "We weren't in a position to provide anything in seven days, during the U.S. Open."
Contacted Wednesday by ESPN, the ATP provided the following statement: "The independent investigation to ascertain whether anything of concern took place in the match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello in August 2007 is ongoing and we continue to look forward to cooperation from all parties concerned."
The ATP declined further comment on Davydenko's decision to release his phone records.
In initially refusing to comply with the request for the records, Davydenko and Immenga cited concerns for third parties. Davydenko has said for months that the phone records ATP investigators have been seeking include those of family members and friends and therefore do not fall under the ATP's code, which players sign.
Immenga said an important legal point was scored when an ATP hearing officer in Switzerland said the ATP could not demand third-party phone records.
Earlier this month, two former Scotland Yard detectives interviewed Davydenko's wife and brother in Frankfurt. Immenga said that is further proof that his client is not stonewalling the investigation.
"We are cooperating with everything," Immenga said.
While the ATP repeatedly has refused to commit to a timetable for its investigation, Immenga said he hopes the release of the phone records will convince ATP investigators that Davydenko has done nothing wrong and that the gambling probe will be brought to a swift conclusion.
"All they have to do is look at the records and see he didn't speak from any phone with any of the bettors whose names they have had for months," Immenga said. "There is no connection."
John Barr is a reporter for ESPN's "Outside the Lines." "Outside the Lines" producers Willie Weinbaum and Evan Kanew contributed to this report.